The Tea Party down at the riverfront in St. Louis on Sunday was the usual: the usual signs, the usual speeches. The usual blather.

Ho hum.

But one unusual occurrence livened up the proceedings. Billionaires for Blunt and Millionaires for (Ed) Martin showed up in full rich folk regalia to thank the Tea Partiers for saving their bacon. They thanked every new arrival trooping by for making them richer. One billionaire, in particular, Mark Magas, who carried a sign proclaiming “The Koch brothers and I appreciate your efforts!” thanked people repeatedly for helping lower his tax rate, complaining that under Reagan it was 60 percent, but since Bush it’s been more like 40 percent.


(The woman holding the sign for Robyn isn’t a Carnahan supporter but a supporter of Lacy Clay’s sacrificial lamb this cycle, Robyn Hamlin.)

Most of the people walking into the event were bemused or even smiling at the gaggle of folks dressed in evening wear, holding champagne flutes, with the gentlemen waggling hefty cigars. The signs they saw were thanking them, and it’s not easy to pick up on that kind of irony in the ten seconds they had to evaluate the message–especially if it’s never dawned on you that you’re a dupe for the wealthy. A few got it, though. One woman carried a sign saying “NO SOCIALISM.” Magas loved it. “Thank you! That’s what I’ve been saying!” he effused. Obviously, she knew she was being lampooned, because she yelled, “Well, excuse me for working hard and earning my own damn money!”

One of the billionaires, Cathy Sherwin (the redhead) said that some Tea Partiers complained that these people were fakes. But Sherwin’s attitude is that the Koch brothers and their ilk have been faking a grassroots movement, never showing their own faces. She figures that, even pretending to be a billionaire, she’s as “real” as those puppeteers.

Eventually, the billionaires left the entrance gate and walked down to the area in front of the stage. The Tea Partiers down there were much more savvy about these visitors. They had, in fact, come prepared for just such spies in their midst. The first photo shows local Tea Party guru Bill Hennessey holding a sign that outs the intruders.

But the billionaires were so friendly and outgoing–One Tea Partier told Magas to say hi to George (Soros). Magas responded, “I will. And you say hi to David (Koch) from me.”–that there was lots of camera clicking and no confrontation at all.

And the other nice part about the event: I finally got to attend a Tea Party where some truth got told.